Despite the boom of superhero movies, the video game industry seems to lack superhero games aside from the occasional Batman or Spider-Man title. Thankfully, 2017’s Injustice 2 is one of the few comic book video games that properly utilizes its intellectual property. Not only does it offer plenty to satisfy fans of DC comics, but it also remains a fun (albeit flawed) arcade fighter.
Injustice 2 improves on its predecessor in every way. Stories in fighting games are rarely selling points, but the single-player campaign of Injustice 2 is fittingly fun and comic-inspired. The previous game told the story of Superman’s evil regime. This one follows Batman rebuilding the world while introducing the evil villain Braniac.
The game also acts as an origin story for Supergirl, the new face of the series. Comic book fans have tons to dig into here. Players unfamiliar with the books will likely enjoy the simplicity of being able to fight against various superheroes.
The game’s roster has changed since the first. Instead of additional characters joining the fight, many new characters replace old ones. Ares, Doomsday, Shazam, and many others are absent from Injustice 2 (including my personal favorite, Lex Luthor).
The many newcomers include Deadshot, Robin, Darkseid, Firestorm, Doctor Fate, Gorilla Grodd, Cheetah, and Poison Ivy among others. Injustice 2’s roster is equally loaded with fan-favorites, especially for those familiar with the CW’s DC shows.
Downloadable characters are also enticing. B-listers like Red Hood, Starfire, and Black Manta are available for purchase. There are also guests like Hellboy and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The biggest gameplay addition to the series has nothing to do with fighting — it’s customization. Injustice 2’s “Gear” system adds a new level of depth to the series. Now every character has hundreds of different cosmetic options, and each cosmetic item comes with an associated stat boost. So not only will players be changing the look of their favorite characters, but their fighting abilities as well.
For the most part, this system is a welcome addition to the series. Cosmetic items range from unique armor to color palettes to comic book callbacks that will have fans collecting them all.
Every hero maintains their signature look — Batman can only look so different before he looks nothing like Batman — but the customization allows for tons of unique outfits. Some characters even have options that recreate other DC characters absent from the roster. The novelty of creating your own version of a DC superhero doesn’t wear off, but it does become harder to appreciate because of the progression system.
Players level up through combat but leveling up hardly feels like a reward. Progression’s real rewards are cosmetic items for the deep customization system, and those can only be earned via loot boxes.
The DC-themed “Mother Boxes” must be bought and opened to earn a random assortment of items. They aren’t character-specific or even level-specific. Boxes yield cosmetics for random characters — even ones that players don’t use — and they can even yield items that have minimum level requirements.
This makes the entire game feel like a grind. It can take ages to earn items for preferred characters, unless you’re willing to spend real-world money on these virtual boxes.
Items can also be earned through Multiverse mode, which provides regularly updated challenges to break up the grind. Many of these challenges use specific characters and follow specific rules, creating a refreshing array of post-game content for players to enjoy.
Injustice 2 also has an online multiplayer mode for more competitive players, and thanks to the tighter, refined combat, it’s much less intimidating to jump into than in the previous game.
It’s difficult to judge Injustice 2 as a whole. On one hand, the game is a clear improvement over the first and is easily the best comic-book fighting game ever made.
On the other hand, its most rewarding features are dragged down by a predatory microtransaction system. In any full-priced big budget video game, microtransactions are a detractor. It’s easily the most glaring issue that Injustice 2 has. However, the core gameplay is so satisfying that loot boxes can almost be ignored — almost.
For DC fans, picking this game up is a no-brainer. Being able to mix and match your favorite DC characters and personalize them is hard to pass up on. However, casual fighting game fans may not want to indulge Injustice 2. It’s incredibly fun, but the monotonous microtransactions are a huge bummer.